The first week of the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament has come and gone, and eight SEC teams found themselves playing for a shot in the College World Series at different Regional sites. Five teams - three hosts and two underdogs - battled through to advance to a Super Regional this weekend - Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Alabama. Going home? That would be SEC Tournament champs LSU, SEC West champs Auburn, and Ole Miss, who featured the fifth overall pick in Monday's Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
Though some of the league's firepower has been stripped, the SEC's has produced five out of 16 remaining teams - more than any other conference. Some teams, like Vandy and Alabama, squeezed through with narrow wins, while powerhouses Florida and South Carolina were hardly challenged in three game sweeps in their Regionals. These performances were all taken into account when rounding up this week's SEC Power Rankings. After a week off, the rankings return with some minor movement in the seeds, but the top two spots remain the same.
|Still Fighting, Still Battling|
||45-15 (22-8)||Allowed just five runs over three games to win their Regional. Granted, the other teams were Florida Atlantic (#39), Oregon State (#36), and Bethune-Cookman (UR), but still impressive. Their aggregate scoring over the weekend? 32-5.|
|2)||2||South Carolina||46-15 (21-9)||No opponent, including a game Virginia Tech squad, got within four runs of the Gamecocks in Columbia. This sets up an intriguing in-state Super Regional between hosts Coastal Carolina and USC this weekend - and it should be must-see television.|
|3)||4||Arkansas||43-19 (18-12)||Had trouble with #2 seed Washington State, but in the end proved that their strength was no regular season illusion after being bounced from the SEC Tourney in two straight games.|
|4)||5||Vanderbilt||45-18 (16-12)||On Saturday, this team didn't look like they belonged in the postseason, let alone a Super Regional. Then their bats woke up with some big 2-out RBIs, and the pitching was almost untouchable despite coming from some surprising places; now they're two wins from Omaha. What a difference a day makes.|
|5)||6||Alabama||41-23 (15-15)||7-2 over their last nine games - all postseason affairs. The Crimson Tide are peaking at just the right time to make this season a success. They pulled off a huge comeback against #8 Georgia Tech - winning back-to-back games in Atlanta to punch their ticket to a Super Regional.|
|Out of the Tournament, but Nothing to be Ashamed of|
|6)||3||Auburn||43-21 (20-10)||Auburn played about as well as you can without actually winning a Regional, engaging in three tight battles with #20 Clemson but only winning one. Their final loss marked a disappointing end to a stellar season, but the Tigers will ultimately be remembered as SEC West champs as well as one of 2010's biggest surprises.|
|7)||7||Ole Miss||39-24 (16-14)||The Rebels were sandwiched into the NCAA's toughest bracket (along with #2 Virginia and #33 Saint John's) and paid the price for it. Ole Miss gave up 36 runs in the 20 innings that Drew Pomeranz wasn't available to pitch for - making it abundantly clear why they lost.|
|8)||8||LSU||41-22 (14-16)||Looked to have big momentum on their side after a stirring SEC Tournament run, but fell short in a tough regional that featured powerhouse UCLA and a strong UC-Irvine team. Unfortunately, the Tigers will lose high profile players like Anthony Ranaudo, Leon Landry, and Micah Gibbs to the MLB - along with some highly rated recruits as well.|
|Potential Tournament Snubs Who Got an Early Start on Their Vacations|
|9)||9||Tennessee||30-26 (12-18)||The Volunteers lose only one regular player to graduation (Steve Crnkovich) and likely two juniors to the draft (Bryan Morgado, William Hawn). They'll be a stronger squad in 2011, so expect to see them in the NCAAs next year.|
|10)||12||Kentucky||31-25 (13-17)||Two weeks ago, Kentucky and Alabama were neck and neck in the SEC standings and considered to be two similarly talented teams. Now, 'Bama stands just two wins from the College World Series, while Kentucky's season ended over two weeks ago.|
|Hopeful to Rebuild, But Even That is in Question...
|11)||11||Mississippi State||23-33 (6-24)||Jumped up a spot solely by virtue of not being Georgia. With their top three hitters all graduating and the pitching situation relying on a pair of upcoming sophomores, next year could be equally painful.|
|12)||10||Georgia||16-37 (5-23)||12.5% of Georgia's overall wins (40% of their SEC wins!) came whilst destroying Kentucky's season. I know I said this last time, I just wanted to reiterate that.|
The SEC's fantastic five will continue battling this weekend, with hopes of advancing to the College World Series next week in Omaha. While Florida is the only team of the group favored to win, the league's four other underdogs will hit the road for battles to earn national recognition and a trip to Nebraska. Unfortunately, since the World Cup is scheduled essentially at the same exact time, we might not be hearing too much about CWS heroics, but we'll still have all the coverage here (at least for Vandy).